Am I the only person that starts planning autumn recipes and looks forward to the changing leaves in the middle of July? I mean, don’t get me wrong. Summer is pretty great, but I just can’t explain enough how much I love the autumn months. Obviously, that makes me sound super basic, and I’m sure you’re all picturing pumpkin spice lattes right now (which I detest), but I can’t help it! I am deliriously happy in autumn.
Although, if I have one thing to say about Summer it’s got to be the produce. The markets explode with bounty, and I find myself reconnecting with my favorite blogs and cookbooks—looking for recipes to use everything up. (Of course, sometimes they’re best enjoyed in their simplest form.)
My favorite part of the summer produce schedule is once tomatoes, peaches, and corn hit their prime. They’re the juiciest part of the season, and I often associate them with the slower, quite literal, lazy dog days of summer. It’s the perfect time to sit around and enjoy food with friends and family. Have a glass of wine, and enjoy.
I used that feeling to create these fresh corn cakes with a small warm salad of peaches and tomatoes. Perfectly-sized and flavored to feed your friends with summer’s bounty in the afternoon sun.
These cakes use fresh, raw corn straight from the cob. The beautiful part about that is the corn adds ingredient functionality to the game. It’s not just a flavoring!
Corn has a large percentage of starch and water in its kernels. Once the corn is pureed into the batter, these ingredients are going to help the corn cakes along.
First, the water. The water helps hydrate the starch and protein in the flour which is the key to the corn cake baking up when it hits the griddle. Then the extra starch. The starch is important for us because of starch gelatinization. Remember that science babe of a reaction? (We chatted about it here with muffins, and here in more detail with soup base)
That starch gelatinization is important to us for thickening and softening power. When you spoon that batter into the pan, the heat begins the starch thickening process in the batter which traps the air bubbles produced by the baking powder. That allows the corn cakes to puff up slightly with air bubbles laced throughout. Then the softening. The high amount of starch from the flour and the corn creates such a soft bite which is perfect for us. The corn cake is light and fluffy and perfect for a summer salad accompaniment.
You’ll also notice that these cakes use self-rising flour (see this) in addition to more baking powder. The self-rising flour is nice because it generally has a slightly softer, lower protein version of all-purpose which keeps the product a little softer. And the extra baking powder ensures that the cakes remain tall and fluffy while cooking.
Onto this recipe! One note: I used baby kale because of the bitterness, but feel free to swap with arugula or baby spinach.
Corn Cakes with Balsamic Peach and Tomato Salad
Makes 10-12 Small Cakes
Corn Cakes adapted from Marie Claire Food Fast
1 cob corn, shucked and silk removed
½ cup self-rising flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Pinch Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 peach, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Big handful baby kale leaves
2 oz fresh goat cheese
- Make the batter for the corn cakes. Put the cob of corn, wide side down, in a large bowl. Use a chef knife to cut the corn kernels from the cob moving from top to bottom, collecting the corn in the bowl.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, cumin, and a pinch of salt. Give it a quick pulse to mix. Add the corn kernels, egg, and thyme and process until the corn is chopped and the batter forms.
- In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, drop one tablespoon of the batter in the pan. If it seems a little thick and isn’t spreading as much, don’t worry. After two minutes once the cake is golden brown on the bottom, flip it over to cook the other side. If your batter was a little too thick to spread well on the first side, use a spatula to flatten out the cake slightly.
- After a couple of minutes, the cake should be golden brown on the second side and remove to a warm plate. I use the first one to practice, so if it’s not perfect, don’t worry about it! You can always thin the batter with a little splash of water if it’s too think for your taste.
- Repeat with the rest of the batter, cooking 1-2 at a time in the pan.
- While the corn cakes are cooking, heat another medium pan over medium heat. Add the peaches and tomatoes to the pan when hot and cook for a couple minutes to soften slightly.
- Add the balsamic to the pan and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low to reduce the balsamic. (Optional: If you want it to be a little sweeter, add a teaspoon of brown sugar and mix to combine.) Once the balsamic is reduced, taste the mixture and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, or sugar as desired.
- When the cakes are done, lay out on a serving dish/platter. Spread the goat cheese on the cakes, dividing evenly.
- Top each cake with a few leaves of baby kale. Tear the larger leaves up into smaller pieces if your leaves are bigger.
- Divide the peaches/tomatoes mixture among the cakes, topping the kale. If desired, finish with a tiny splash of balsamic vinegar and a crack of freshly-ground black pepper. Enjoy!